Why population matters

“All our environmental problems become easier to solve with fewer people, and harder — and ultimately impossible — to solve with ever more people.”

 – Sir David Attenborough, Population Matters patron

Human population has grown beyond Earth's sustainable means. We are consuming more resources than our planet can regenerate, with devastating consequences.

It took humanity 200,000 years to reach one billion and only 200 years to reach seven billion. We are still adding an extra 80 million each year and are headed towards 10 billion by mid-century. 

Rapid human population growth exacerbates all environmental problems

We have to address the issue of overpopulation

More people inevitably put more demands on the planet. More people require more food, water, sanitation, homes, public services, and amenities – but our Earth is struggling to cope. Populations of wild species have plummeted, global temperatures are rising, our seas are full of plastic and forests are disappearing.

Humans are directly responsible for the sixth mass extinction and the climate crisis, the most serious environmental threats our planet has ever faced. 

In the rich world, we consume at astronomical and unsustainable levels. Today, a child born in the US will produce 160 times more carbon emissions than one born in Niger. We are already using the resources of more than one-and-a-half planets. Everyone has the right to a good quality of life and with increasing global affluence, our collective impact will increase even further. This is why we cannot ignore population.

Together, we can do something about it

The UN's projections show that very small changes in the size of families across the globe make an enormous difference - between a population of 7.4 billion by 2100, and an unthinkable 16.6 billion by the same year.

We can achieve a sustainable global population when communities, governments and organisations take action to encourage smaller families through choice, education, women's empowerment, and easy access to family planning. By doing so, we can ensure that, in the future, everyone can have a decent standard of living on a healthy planet.

Population Matters is putting population on the global agenda, bringing the issue to an international audience through our campaigning, education and research.